On Monday, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) made what is perhaps the boldest statement by a Democratic lawmaker about President Donald Trump’s suspected ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In an appearance on AM to DM by BuzzFeed News, Merkley had a short response when asked whether Putin has any compromising information on Trump.

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“I think it’s likely.”

Asked to elaborate after a few seconds of awkward silence, Merkley continued.

“Well it’s the standard strategy of Russia, when people visit there who are important, try to get compromising information on them, to set them up with hookers, to tape everything that goes on in their room. So it’s likely that they have that. There were many members of Trump’s team that had different types of communication with Russia that probably uncomfortable, and we may find out from Mueller far beyond uncomfortable.”

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith seized on the opportunity to ask Merkley whether the infamous “pee tape,” the allegation from the Steele Dossier that Trump was recorded with prostitutes during a visit to Moscow in November 2013, is real.

“Something close to that. Something close to that.”

.@BuzzFeedBen: “Do you think Vladimir Putin has anything on him?”@SenJeffMerkley: “I think it’s likely.”

Smith: “Your view is that the pee tape is real?”

Merkley: “Something close to that. Something close to that.”

From @AM2DM: pic.twitter.com/KX0LjRy04s

— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) July 16, 2018

Merkley’s remarks came as Trump was meeting with Putin in Finland.

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